Frugal Fail: “Smart” Tea for $1


Money Fail Sweet Tea

Driving today I heard a McDonald’s ad on the radio.  In it, a guy decides that since he’s “smart enough to get a sweet tea for just a dollar” he is also smart enough to build a gazebo.  His female companion points out that he’s building it upside down, and the guy sheepishly agrees to call the “gazebo guy.”

He should have called his 2nd grade math teacher.

Drinks (alcoholic or otherwise) are one of the most overpriced things you can get in a restaurant.  Now, I’m all for going to the bar with friends, or treating the family to a dinner out every now and then, but nobody should be excited about the “deal” they are getting.  For about $16 you can get a bucket of Lipton Iced Tea Sugar Sweetened Iced Tea Mix (Pack of 2) that makes 56 quarts or about 14 gallons of tea, which is enough for 56 large 32-oz servings of McDonald’s tea.  In other words, you can get the same serving for about $0.20 cents at home and the McDonald’s “deal” is 5x the cost.

Amazingly, the $1 tea from MickeyD’s isn’t the biggest rip off in tea … For $6.98 at, you can get a packet of 10 instant tea mix packets.  That’s $.69/glass, IF you make them at home.  But the marketing guys show a bottle of water on the box, which will set you back another $1 – $2 at the convenience store.  That’s somewhere between $1.69 and $2.69 for a glass of tea.

We recommend you get a high quality portable thermos.  Personally, I use a Contigo West Loop Mug that will keep a cup of coffee hot, or a refrigerated drink cold, literally all day.  Using it means I’m NOT spending $1-$4 a day on drinks, depending on what I’m not buying (coffee, soda, or just plain water).  That might not sound like much, but over the course of a month (workdays only) it can add up to $20 – $80.  Let’s call it $50/month or $600/year that I can either invest or spend on things that really matter to me.  I think that’s better than spending $20 a month for 20 glasses of tea.

Just for fun, here is a video of tea being made at McDonald’s:

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3 Responses to “Frugal Fail: “Smart” Tea for $1”

  1. Maggie@SquarePennies

    Hey, Aaron! I gree with you 100% Some will say that it’s only a dollar, but they are the same people who will say they just can’t seem to save. Here’s to a great summer with many tall glasses of great iced tea made at home!

    PS I don’t see your widget for being a member of the Yakezie Challenge. I got mine from the Yakezie website.

    All the best to you!

  2. Maggie@SquarePennies

    Ooops! Sorry, I see your widget is on your home page, just not on every page. My apologies!

  3. One’s Frugal Fail is Another’s Frugal Success | Below Your Means

    […] part of living below your means is knowing a good value when you see one.  Recently we ran a Frugal Fail about McDonald’s $1 Sweet Tea, and how buying drinks out daily was a great way to spend a lot of money on something that […]